I’ve just come back from an exhilarating time at the 33rd Veerstichting Symposium in Leiden, Netherlands.  This annual event brings together 250 top students with 250 movers and shakers in society to debate an important topic of the day.  This year it was “Lost in Excess” and provoked a broad array of interpretations.

I was privileged to be a key note speaker and I talked about how brands (technology and fashion in particular) can encourage excessive consumption in children and can exacerbate social divisions.  In Unicef’s Report Card 7 on “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” the Netherlands came out top.  We discussed whether the very late introduction of commercial television stations to the Netherlands had something to do with their high score child well-being.  Sweden banned advertising to children in the 1990s and their children are second happiest …

The students I met at the event were an inspiration – with a balanced, informed and highly mature approach to the event and with inquiring, open minds in the discussions.  It was impeccably organised by a dynamic student team.  It struck me as a really great idea and it would be wonderful  to have more symposia like this around the world  – we have a lot to learn from our young.

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